COLLEGE PARK, MD. – The University of Maryland football team takes to the road for the first time of the 2012 season when it faces Temple at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday at noon. The Terrapins will look to build upon a 7-6 season-opening win over William & Mary in which 14 players made their Maryland debut, including 12 true freshmen. The defense kept the team in the game, allowing Justus Pickett to run for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
• A dominant defensive effort by the Terps enabled the win in week one. Linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield made 13 tackles and helped seal the game with a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter. Defensive lineman Joe Vellano had 11 stops – two of them for loss – and an interception. In all, the defense recorded 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and held William & Mary to just 2.5 yards per carry (41 attempts, 104 yards). Hartsfield, the ACC’s active career leader in tackles, and Vellano, a 2011 second team All-American, highlight the 10 starters returning to the Maryland defense this season.
• The offense was set to return five starters, including three of its top four receivers from last season in wideouts Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins, and tight end Matt Furstenburg. Junior C.J. Brown, who started five games in 2011 and set the Maryland single-season rushing yards record by a quarterback, was set to assume No. 1 quarterback duties before suffering a torn ACL in a non-contact drill on Aug. 14. Injuries hit both sides of the ball hard during the preseason, as 10 potential starters missed the William & Mary game with various injuries and ailments (see note page 2)..
• Still, Maryland hopes a number of key returnees, combined with a highly touted 2012 recruiting class, will help it reach postseason play for the ninth time in the last 12 years. In addition to Vellano and Hartsfield several playmakers are back on defense. In the secondary, Eric Franklin and Dexter McDougle have plenty of experience, having both started every game last year. Franklin, a senior who has played in 28 career games, led the team in solo tackles (64), ranked second in total tackles (106) and tied for second on the team with four pass breakups. McDougle, meanwhile, led the team with six pass breakups and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. The Terps also welcome back linebackers Darin Drakeford and Alex Twineand defensive lineman A.J. Francis, all of whom have starting experience. Drakeford is a disruptive force, tying for the league lead last season with four forced fumbles. As a true freshman last year, Twine ended the season as the starter at Will linebacker and averaged 9.8 tackles in his four starts. Francis has played in each of the last 38 games and has 24 career starts.
• Quarterback Perry Hills, who against William & Mary became Maryland’s first true freshman starter since Latrez Harrison in 1999, will direct the offense. Hills overcame a slow start against the Tribe by leading the Terps on a 10-play, 69-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game winner. Maryland has a young, talented group of skill players around Hills. Pickett, a sophomore, is the veteran in the backfield and is joined by three freshmen in Brandon Ross, Albert Reid and Wes Brown. At receiver, sophomore Marcus Leak and freshman Stefon Diggs each had three receptions in the season opener.
• Diggs is also the kickoff and punt returner, and averaged 16.6 yards on three punt returns against William & Mary. Nathan Renfro secured the punting duties and performed well, averaging 53.0 yards on four punts with a long of 60. His best punt came late in the fourth quarter with Maryland holding on to a one-point lead. Renfro had his 57-yard punt downed at the 2-yard line with 2:17 remaining to help seal the win. With senior Nick Ferrara out of the season opener, freshman Brad Craddock handled the kickoff and place-kicking duties.
• Seven players made their first career starts on Saturday against William & Mary: quarterback Perry Hills, running back Albert Reid, safety Sean Davis, defensive back Jeremiah Johnson, linebacker Cole Farrand, nose tackle Darius Kilgo and offensive lineman Nick Klemm.
• In addition to the seven first-time starters, 14 players saw their first action against William & Mary. And of the 44 players that saw time against the Tribe, 25 of them were underclassmen.
• Maryland has 14 true freshmen listed on its two-deep (excluding return men), which is the third most in the FBS (Colorado – 16, Texas – 15).
• Maryland allowed William & Mary to gain just 229 yards of total offense. That’s its best total defensive performance since surrendering 115 to Wake Forest on Oct. 30, 2010.
• The Terps held William & Mary to 2.5 yards per carry. Additionally, 28 of the Tribe’s 41 rushes were for three yards or less, including 15 of 19 in the first half.
• Demetrius Hartsfield recorded a double-digit tackle game against William & Mary by finishing with 13. Hartsfield had seven double-digit efforts in nine games last season. Hartsfield also had a fumble recovery with 1:11 left that sealed the win.
• Head coach Randy Edsall handed out game balls for the win over William & Mary. Marcus Leak got the game ball for offense, Joe Vellano for defense and Nathan Renfro for special teams. Renfro also received honorable mention punter of the week from CollegeFootballPerformance.com.
• Maryland was hit hard by injuries in the preseason. Thirteen players missed the season opener due to various injuries and ailments: defensive linemen Keith Bowers, Isaiah Ross and Andre Monroe; defensive backs Isaac Goins, A.J. Hendy and Matt Robinson; linebackers Kenneth Tate and Abner Logan; quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Dustin Dailey, running back Brandon Ross; offensive lineman Josh Cary; and place-kicker Nick Ferrara. Both Monroe and Brown are out for the season.
• Perry Hills became the first true freshman starter at quarterback for Maryland since Latrez Harrison in 1999. He also became the first freshman to start a season opener since redshirt freshman Calvin McCall on Sept. 2, 1999, in a 6-0 win over Temple.
Maryland-Temple Series History
• Maryland leads the all-time series with Temple, 6-1. The series dates back to 1997; the schools played four years in a row from 1997-2000. Temple’s only win in the series came last year, when it beat the Terps 38-7 in College Park. Maryland is 3-0 when playing at Temple.
• The last meeting in Philadelphia was Oct. 8, 2005. Mario Merrills ran for three touchdowns and Sam Hollenbach passed for 228 yards in a 38-7 victory.